Sampras, Martin play for charity
"Duel Under the Oaks" in PMAC on Sunday
by Jay St. Pierre
Issue date: 10/27/06 Section: Sports
For most individuals, retirement consists of kicking back, relaxing and working around the house, but for retired tennis greats Pete Sampras and Todd Martin, retirement will be put on hold as the two come together Sunday for an exhibition tennis match in the PMAC.
"Duel Under the Oaks,"
sponsored by the Irene W. and C.B. Pennington Foundation, is being held to help raise money for LSU Health Sciences Center and its students that were impacted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
"I just felt this was a great opportunity for me to raise money for a good cause," Sampras said. "It was a good chance to give back a little bit, and I'm really looking forward to it."
Sampras, who compiled a singles record of 762-222 and won 14 Grand Slam titles, said he felt the time had come for him to help out the people of Louisiana.
"The hurricane was such a tragic event that not only affected the people there, but everyone seeing it on TV," Sampras said. "And after seeing the misery of what happened, I think it affected everyone. Even though some time has gone by, this is my way to give back and my way of reminding people that there are still people suffering and people still trying to get through this."
Paula Pennington de la Bretonne, Pennington Foundation trustee and organizer of the event, said she attempted to get Sampras to play in Baton Rouge since the two met at Wimbledon in 2002 but was not successful until earlier this year.
"I've been trying to get Pete Sampras to come to Baton Rouge for six years now," de la Bretonne said. "And then when Hurricane Katrina hit I got a phone call in January that said he wanted to come to Baton Rouge. So we planned it out and just thought it would be great for his exhibition to be turned into a fundraiser for the LSU Health Science students in New Orleans."
De la Bretonne said she can sympathize with the people the event is helping because she saw her son struggle through the aftermath of the Katrina.
"My son Michael was a senior last year at the LSU Med School in New Orleans, and he and my daughter-in-law lived in Lakeview," de la Bretonne said. "They lost everything, and I saw what he had to go through with classes and rebuilding."
With the help of Sampras and Martin, the event has earned over $300,000 from ticket sales and sponsorship programs.
Florence Andr鬠president of the LSUHSC Foundation, said she is grateful these two tennis players were willing to take the time to help the school.
"This means a lot," Andr頳aid. "I know that sounds silly, but we are reimbursing students at all six schools for their losses. We can never help them replace everything they lost. But we have students who have lost everything, and we had students that came back to school in nothing but scrubs."
De la Bretonne said 100 percent of the proceeds from this event will be donated to the LSUHSC, something that has allowed James M. Cairo, dean of School of Allied Health Professions, to help relieve the stress of the students at this center.
"As many as 40 to 50 percent of our students lost everything so coming back was a real hardship in a sense of they not only lost their houses, but their clothes, their books and so forth," Cairo said. "So the money that we have received from this, we have given it to those students who have the greatest need, and we've done so to kind of help move things along and try and buffer some of the hardships they have gone through."
Sampras said he is looking forward to the event and said it should be a good experience.
"It's going to be a match that I think people are going to enjoy," Sampras said. "Todd and I have had some great matches in the past, and I think we will have some fun out there and show the people a good match."
Contact Jay St. Pierre at email@example.com